The MAC area stretches along the axes of two major rivers of upper Assam – the Brahmaputra and the Subansiri. The Mising tribe, belonging to the North Assam branch of Tibeto Burman linguistic group, is a riparian tribe and they live in the flood plains or water meadows on both the banks of river Brahmaputra from its headwaters in Tinsukia and Dhemaji districts up to Kaziranga National Park in Golaghat district on the south and up to Jiabhoroli river on the north and, along the Subansiri river from the foot hills up to its confluence with Brahmaputra. Besides, as both Brahmaputra and Subansiri are two large braided river systems, there are innumerable braid-bars or eyots, some as large as several square kilometers in area, which too are inhabited by Mising people in the upper reaches. Along with the majority Misings, other scheduled tribes – Bodos, Hajongs, Garos, Rabhas, Sonowal Kacharis and Deuris also inhabit the area. There are other non-tribal communities too now living in the area. There are large numbers of other small rivers, rivulets and water-bodies criss-crossing the MAC area which were once a boon for prosperous livelihood.
But in the aftermath of the great earthquake of 1950, the behavior and characteristics of both the rivers changed and recurrent high flood and fluvial erosion became regular which, over the years till date have displaced large numbers of villages, eaten away unbelievable areas of arable land, casted sand deposits in paddy fields and silted up the natural water bodies and ponds. As a result, the erstwhile Lakhimpur district, now Lakhimpur and Dhemaji, which was once known as the rice bowl of Assam has become Assam’s worst flood affected districts with poverty looming large. People had no option but to clear forest areas for settling anew.
Flood and fluvial erosion continues to be the main problem of the entire MAC area and therefore, together with the State Water Resources department, MAC must strive hard to find a sustainable solution and devise means of livelihood that can go along well in such situation and such flood terrain.
Economic Condition of MAC Area:
The entire MAC area is a zero industry zone and the only economic activities are agriculture and allied sectors which are in most under developed or primitive type with farmers still using wooden plough pulled by bullocks, weavers weaving their primitive throw shuttle looms, cattle pasturing in the open un-tethered, pigs skittering in the villages and women folk herding in groups to the forest or to the wetland to collect edibles – roots, leaves or aquatic creatures.
Despite being unorganized and primitive – rice, mustard oil seed and black gram are produced aplenty owing to availability of land during the winter, and they are the main source of livelihood. Fishing is another means of livelihood and it too is unorganized and depends only on naturally produced fishes in the rivers and other water bodies. Other economic activities like cattle rearing, piggery, sericulture, handloom etc. are small scale homestead activity and there is no large scale organized production.
There is urgent need for intervention through skill up-gradation, farm mechanization, irrigation, introduction of high yielding varieties, organizing the farmers in to SHGs, JLGs, Cooperative society etc. and motivating them for organized and scientific farming which can transform the economic scenario.
Apart from cultivation of paddy, oil seed and other pulses, fishery, piggery, cattle rearing, sericulture and handloom holds ample scope for development as commercial activity in MAC area with long term strategic planning and effective in time intervention.